Katie Fitzsimmons has joined the education team at Church House in the role of Director for Schools. Katie comes with a wealth of experience.

Katie came to teaching from a job in industry, working in London for the Royal Mail in project management. “I had one of those moments of reflection! I was spending my life travelling and dealing with angry people and where was the value in it?”

Having decided to train as a teacher, Katie joined the graduate teacher programme which saw her thrown in at the deep end in the classroom. “It really was an incredible space to be in. I was teaching languages in a secondary modern where the head teacher was passionately committed to comprehensive education, to better opportunities for every child.”

Katie stepped into school leadership and later moved down to Cornwall with her husband where she continued in secondary education. “Then I made the decision to return to London for a vice principal position in a very big, very challenging comprehensive school and it was one of the most inspirational times of my life. I welcomed the diversity, to work with and understand how religious and cultural issues can affect a child in school such as those taking exams during Ramadan.

“I was working with colleagues and children affected by Grenfell when the fire happened. That was a challenging time, dealing with pupils and staff who were grieving and then seeing the positivity that came out of that and the sense of community coming together to help others.”

Following time spent as a school improvement advisor in Worcestershire, which helped Katie grow her experience across primary and secondary education, she returned to Cornwall and the Diocese of Truro.

Katie’s decision to join the diocese was inspired by the opportunity to bring her faith into her work.

“As a Christian, this was a chance to really make it a part of my work. The other deciding factor was the opportunity to work with children across Cornwall. I remember being at a session for school leaders from the South West once and someone said ‘if your child wants to be a doctor, don’t send them to school in Cornwall’.

“Well, I am the mother of a child who wants to be a doctor and who goes to school in Cornwall. I want to be in a position to ensure that we are providing the best opportunities for all the children in our schools to be able to actively choose their future and share Christian values.

‘It’s the whole child that matters’

“So much of my work has been in standards, but, alongside that, I don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s the whole child that matters.”

While Katie has only been in post a few weeks, she’s already sure that one of her aims is to strengthen the network the diocese has with schools and to facilitate the communication between school leaders and head teachers across the county. “We don’t have time to re-invent wheels. The network can help us support schools and schools to support each other. It is about modelling collaboration that is genuine and authentic.”

Katie says that while she really values the opportunity to live and work in the diocese, she is not blind to the challenges that exist in Cornwall. “It’s about using our core Christian values and the vision for education to help our young people navigate a rapidly changing and often confusing world by giving them the skills to do that.”